University Exchanges $800M For Slashing DEI Programs

In a significant development, the University of Wisconsin System has accepted an $800 million deal with the state legislature, albeit with certain conditions. The agreement requires the university to significantly cut its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

At first, the UW Board of Regents rejected the agreement by a slim margin of 9-8. Nevertheless, they reversed their decision, casting an 11-6 vote in favor of the deal. Under the terms of the agreement, the university system is set to receive funds for new infrastructure and employee salary increases. In return, they must freeze the overall number of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) positions within the system.

One of the fundamental changes brought about by the agreement is the discontinuation of diversity statements on student applications. Additionally, the deal mandates that UW Madison ends its race-based hiring program. These changes have sparked mixed reactions among stakeholders.

Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos conveyed contentment with the deal’s approval, remarking, “We have finally made progress and implemented genuine reforms.” Vos underscored that this marks the initial stage in an ongoing initiative to address what he perceives as problematic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices on UW campuses.

The deal also requires restructuring 43 DEI positions to prioritize “student success.” This transformation will be in effect until 2026.

Notably, three UW regents who opposed the deal, Amy Blumenfeld Bogost, Jennifer Station, and Karen Walsh, ultimately voted favorably, citing additional time to consider the matter. However, Angela Adams, who was against the deal, disagreed, stating that supporting DEI on campus should not be exchanged for financial gains.

The University of Wisconsin System has faced financial challenges due to the Republican-controlled legislature withholding pay raises and cutting its budget by $32 million, the estimated DEI expenditure over two years. In response, Democratic Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers filed a lawsuit in November, accusing Republicans of violating the state constitution and obstructing government functions by blocking raises.

This recent deal marks a significant turning point for the University of Wisconsin System. With the acceptance of substantial funds, accompanied by changes to DEI initiatives, the university must navigate a complex landscape of evolving perspectives and priorities. Only time will tell how these adjustments will shape the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the system.